Are you looking for a unique goat for your dairy herd? Then you should check out Lamanchas. Their earless appearance is sure to attract attention from all your farm visitors. But beyond their novel features, this hardy breed produces high quantities of rich, nutritious milk.
In our complete Lamancha goat breed guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to decide if these quirky animals should join your farm family.
We’ll even explain why you can milk these goats longer than other breeds. Keep reading to learn more.
Want to know the facts about Lamancha goats quickly? We’ve got this handy dandy chart here to show you all the LaMancha goats’ stats in a flash.
|Does 130 lbs Bucks 160 lbs
|Average Daily Milk Production
|7 lbs per day with an extra long lactation period
|Percentage of Butterfat
|3.9 % butterfat average but can be as high as 8%
|7 – 10 years
|Easy going and cooperative. Easy to milk
|Ears: Outer ears are very small, and Lamanchas are often described as earless.There are two classifications of ear size, gopher and elf, depending on cartilage size.
Color: All colors are breed accepted, including shades of gray, brown, cream, or black. They often have stripes or patterns
Does it sound like Lamanchas might be the breed for you? Let’s look more closely at these earless dairy goats.
Lamancha Breed History
With a name like Lamancha, you might think this breed is a Spanish breed. But the truth is, these distinctive earless goats are actually an American breed. While they may have Spanish ancestors way back, the first Lamancha goat was registered as a specific breed in Oregon in 1958.
The story of how these earless goats wound up in Oregon is quite interesting. While earless goats have always been around, the Lamanchas’ ancestors are thought to be earless goats brought to the Americas by Spanish Missionaries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These goats were dual purpose, used for both meat and dairy. Over time this breed spread throughout California and the West.
Now let’s fast forward to the twentieth century. In the 1920s, a woman named Phoebe Wilhelm owned a herd of 125 local California goats. All these goats were earless, and we can only assume descendants of those original Spanish goats. Unfortunately, she lacked any purebred bucks to breed with her earless goats, so she cross-bred with Saanens, a well known dairy breed.
Now in 1937, Eula Fay Frey bought a farm in California. This farm had two earless goats like Phoebe Wilhelm’s herd. Eula quickly discovered that the doe was a prodigious milker. The doe’s son was then bred with an Alpine Nubian cross. The resulting doe, named Peggy, became the basis of Eula’s breeding program.
Eula then bred Peggy and her descendants with various dairy breeds and other small-eared goats. Over time, Eula moved her farm from California to Oregon, where she continued to select the breeds to fulfill her breeding program. But by 1957, Eula was content with her results and discontinued outside breeding. From that point on, she solely bred Lamancha to Lamancha.
In 1958 the Lamancha breed was officially recognized, with approximately 200 goats registered, including some of Eula Fay Frey’s herd. Since then, the breed has become increasingly popular with people looking for good tempered high producing dairy animals. You can find Lamancha goats in most of the US and throughout the world.
What Do Lamancha Goats Look Like?
The easiest way to recognize Lamancha goats is by their lack of ears. Now when we say lack of ears, we don’t mean these are physically deformed goats that can’t hear. Rather, Lamanchas don’t have the long floppy ears we usually associate with goats. While some people find their lack of ears off-putting, Lamancha owners will tell you they see the distinctive appearance as endearing.
Lamancha’s ears are classified as either gopher or elf type, depending on their size. Gopher ears are smaller, often less than 1 inch, with little or no cartilage. Elf ears are a little more prominent — they can be as large as two inches and have some cartilage. There isn’t much difference between the two ear types other than their size and appearance. However, if you are looking to register your Lamancha bucks, they must have gopher ears. Males with gopher ears are guaranteed to breed earless goats.
Other than their distinctive ears (or lack thereof), Lamanchas have a fairly ordinary appearance. Slightly smaller than some dairy breeds, they are sturdy goats. Hair can come in a variety of colors and shades, including brown, gray, black, and cream. They may be horned or polled, and their faces are straight. Males have beards, but females rarely do.
Pros and Cons of Lamancha Goats
Just like all goat breeds, there are pros and cons to owning Lamancha Goats. So, now that we know a little more about where they came from and what they look like, let’s take a closer look at what’s great and not so great about owning these earless goats.
Before we dive into the details, here’s an at a glance look at the good and the bad.
- Unique appearance
- Extended lactation period
- Milk is high in fat and protein content
- Good natured
- Their “ears” may require extra maintenance
- Long-lived, require a commitment
- Most have a strong fence
- Susceptible to carnivorous predators, like coyotes and mountain lions
Curious to know more? Excellent, here you go.
There are a lot of reasons to love these quirky looking goats, and their unique appearance is just one of them. While some people may find Lamanchas’ lack of ears unattractive or even ugly, I think most owners would say that their lack of ears only adds to these goats’ charm. While the earless thing doesn’t really do anything for me, there are plenty of other qualities Lamanchas have in their favor.
Lamanchas strong milk production is a bonus in any dairy herd. Lamanchas are hardy and good natured. In fact, you will find very little phases your Lamanchas (2).
“It has excellent dairy temperament and is an all-around sturdy animal that can withstand a great deal of hardship and still produce.”
And it’s really that ability to produce that makes Lamnchas stand out. They provide rich, nutritious milk, and they provide a lot of it— for a long time. One of the top three US dairy breeds in terms of production, a couple of Lamanchas can easily provide enough milk to supply your family. Plus, you can “milk through” as they have an extended lactation period.
It’s possible to milk your Lamancha for two years without freshening.
While Lamanchas have a lot going for them we would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t talk about the negatives as well. While Lamanchas’ears give them a unique appearance, they also come with special challenges. You should pay special attention to them and clean them as necessary, as they may trap dirt and moisture in the folds.
And be prepared to care for your goats for a long time. Goats are not a short lived species, and Lamanchas, in particular, live for an average of 7 to 10 years. Before you buy any goats you should make sure you are prepared to put in the time and money to care for them properly.
Lamanchas, like other goats, are susceptible to carnivorous predators. If you live somewhere where there are large animals, like coyotes or mountain lions, you will need to keep them secure and safe. Otherwise, you may experience the worst.
A high fence helps protect your animals and keep them from getting out. It is an essential investment if you plan on keeping Lamanchas. But fencing is expensive, so make sure you account for it in your total costs, or you could wind up paying a higher price!
An even temperament is important in dairy goats. If your goat kicks and fights, it might just spill that valuable milk. So, the last thing you want is a wrestling match every time you go to milk your goat. Luckily, with Lamanchas, you won’t have a battle on your hands at milking time.
Lamancha owners rave about their goat’s great personalities. I mean, really, most goat owners love their goats, but obviously, some breeds are better-tempered than others. And Lamanchas rank up there for owner satisfaction.
This breed is known to be intelligent, affectionate, and, most importantly, cooperative.
Whether you plan to milk your Lamanchas or you simply are looking for a pet, you will find these earless goats quickly wind their way into your heart with their winning personalities. However, It is important to remember that goats are herd animals and need more than just you for companionship. Your Lamancha should have at least one goat friend so it doesn’t get too lonely. Lonely goats, especially bucks, can become aggressive.
While some people keep Lamanchas solely as pets, most often, they are raised for their milk production. As we mentioned, in the breed history, Lamanchas were always intended to be a dairy breed. Prodigious milkers were crossed with small-eared goats when the breed was being developed. And the end result was a success — Lamanchas are considered one of the eight major dairy breeds in the US.
One reason Lamanchas are a popular dairy is that their milk is high in milk fat and protein. The milk contains 3.7% milk fat and 3.2% protein (1). In fact, only Nigerian Dwarf and Nubian goats produce milk with higher milk fat and protein content. And neither of those breeds can compete when it comes to daily milk production. If you read our Nigerian Dwarf Goat Breed Guide, then you’ll know while these goats produce a good amount of rich milk for their size, they’re still tiny goats. And their overall milk production just can’t compare to larger goats.
Lamanchas, on the other hand, have a relatively high average daily production. They produce, on average, seven pounds of milk a day which works out to about three quarters of a gallon. This places them in the top three breeds for dairy production. High production of protein and fat-rich milk would be enough on its own to make this a popular dairy breed, but Lamancha goats offer one more advantage to the dairy farmer.
Lamancha goats have a long lactation period. While other breeds average 285 days of lactation, You can milk Lamancahasfor up to two years between freshenings. This extended lactation period is beneficial if you want regular milk but don’t want lots of baby goats around. After a couple of months, when your baby goats are weaned, all that rich, nutritious milk is yours.
Caring for Lamancha Goats
Your goats Lamancha goats are charming, and you want to make sure you care for them properly. It’s ok. I get it — my goats are like my babies. Luckily, Lamanchas are hardy animals that easily adapt to most environments, so they are pretty easy to keep healthy.
One thing you want to do with Lamanchas that you don’t need to do with other goats is to check their “ears.” The shape of the exposed cartilage makes it easy for moisture and debris to get trapped inside. To prevent any problems, you should periodically clean their ears if they seem dirty. Other than that, caring for Lamanchas isn’t that much different than caring for other goats.
Most important is that they have access to good food and clean water. Forage is always the preferred option for goats, but if that isn’t available, make sure you buy the best hay for goats. Pregnant and lactating goats require feed that has a higher protein content. Wethers and bucks, on the other hand, can develop urinary problems from too much calcium. So make sure you feed your goats correctly.
You also want to make sure to protect your goats from predators. While goats are large, they can still be prey for coyotes and mountain lions. Building a tall fence is one way to protect your goats. A fence will also keep your goats out of places you don’t want them — like your garden. Another option to protect your goats is to get a large breed guard dog. These dogs will stay with your herd to protect them from wild animals.
Breeding Your Lamancha Goats
Despite their long lactation period, if you really want to keep your Lamanchas in milk, you will have to breed them. Besides, who can resist the snuggly cuteness of baby goats? So we’ll explain everything you need to know about making more earless babies.
Lamanchas go into heat in the fall. Once you know what you are looking for, it is easy to tell when it is rutting season. Your buck will suddenly behave more inappropriately than usual, urinating on his legs and in his mouth. (Yes, you read that correctly). Your females will flick their tails and potentially start making a racket.
Your does will go into heat for 1-2 days approximately every three weeks until they are either pregnant or the rutting season ends. Lamanchas have a gestation period of around 150 days. So, if all goes as planned, you can expect to see Lamancha babies arrive in spring.
In most ways, breeding Lamanchas is just like breeding other goats. But there is one detail you need to pay attention to — the type of ears your buck has. To ensure your babies come out earless, your buck must have the smaller, gopher type ears. Bucks with elf ears aren’t guaranteed to pass on the earless traits.
Lamanchas are a hardy dairy goat breed that produces a large quantity of healthy, nutritious milk for a long time. They are easy to milk and thrive in a variety of environments. Their high levels of milk production combined with their good nature make them a great choice for small or large scale dairy farms.
But what really makes Lamanchas stand out is their unique appearance. These earless goats are sure to cause a stir amongst your friends. While the ears come in two types, gopher and elf, you want your bucks to have the smaller elf ears if you plan to breed them. This will ensure your future generations continue to have this unique trait.
- Dairy Goat Production. Retrieved from: https://extension.psu.edu/dairy-goat-production
- Breeds of Livestock: Lamancha Goats. Retrieved from: http://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/goats/lamancha/index.html/
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.